Reforms championed in the House by Rep. Tom Petri to create teacher and principal training academies were included today as part of a larger bill to reform the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.
The reforms, known as the Growing Excellent Achievement Training Academies (GREAT) Teachers and Principals Act, would encourage the growth of teacher and principal training academies that are held accountable for producing effective graduates in exchange for freedom from unnecessary regulations and bureaucracy.
"Research continues to confirm what we know intuitively, which is that effective teaching is a critical component of student success," Petri said. "Despite this, many teachers report feeling ill-prepared for their work in the classroom. Through these reforms we are trying to harness the power of innovation to create teacher and principal preparation programs that are more effective and more responsive to the needs of educators."
One leading study found that 61 percent of education school alumni reported that schools of education did not adequately prepare their graduates for the classroom. Principals surveyed as part of that study also gave schools of education low marks, with only 30 percent reporting that such schools prepare teachers very well or moderately well to meet the needs of students with disabilities, and only 16 percent reporting at those levels for students with limited English proficiency. It is well known that nearly half of new teachers leave the profession in the first five years.
The GREAT Teachers and Principals Act was first introduced in the Senate last year by a bipartisan coalition led by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Sens. Bennet and Alexander were later successful in passing an amendment to the Senate's NCLB reauthorization legislation incorporating provisions from the GREAT Act. The amendment passed by unanimous consent in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Recognizing the importance of the GREAT Act reforms, Rep. Petri worked closely with the House Education and Workforce Committee to include similar provisions in Chairman Kline's Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act, which will be marked up by the committee this week. Petri is a senior member of the Committee.